CitizenLab e-democracy platform and tools.

citizen-participation
edemocracy

#1

Thanks to @bob for sending this our way. Does anyone know them or more about this story? Seems like a success, though it’s very early to tell.

They also have a bunch ofjob openings, for whoever is interested.


#2

This seems like something up the alley of DigiDem @mattiasx?


#3

I was about to write this as a reply to https://edgeryders.eu/t/internet-first-government-policy/9980/2 a couple of days ago but thought it would be too irrelevant and off-topic regarding the questions. Now @noemi s post pops up with e-democracy again and this time I will blantly be somewhat hijacking off-topic.

I am sorry not to answer these questions, but I wondered the same about two other projects:

In RailsConf 2019 Lightning talks, Raimond Garcia spoke about consul .
Both consul (link to source code on github) and decidim (link to code on github) are participatory democracy web applications written in Ruby on Rails and apparently in production in quite a number of muncipalities. That might not be the revolution of the system - the actors and roles stay more or less the same.

In what I understand though, in contrast to the aforementioned tools, CitizenLab is not Open Source, meaning decision and information processes would be lead by venture capitalized “secret” non-verifiable algorithms where neither user-groups are the product owners. I know very few about the company and do not want to deny them great visions, values, craftsmenship whatsoever. But public money, public code! Besides, from a business perspective I do not think that Open Sourcing the technology (and still doing the consultations, hosting, development) would be a great risk.


#4

Thanks for sharing. I think it looks really interesting and I’m interested in their approach to the source code. I do see issues connected to the fact that their source code of their platform is not open (transparent). It’s especially interesting since one cannot know about the security of the platform, the knowledge that the CitizenLab company has about each user in closed elections and if their could be meddling in the election.

Yes @hugi I really think so. It’s possible this might be a big contender which wants to grow a lot in Nordic countries.

I agree with you @felix.wolfsteller this is a big issue. And it’s quite interesting that public money doesn’t finance public code even in this e-democracy platform to which many people entrust their democratic process unable to know if it really enables democracy due to the proprietary source code. There’s no risk for them to free and open source their code as they are already very big and might as well take a big share in the e-democracy space due to their growth and size - probably because they have a better product or offering than the others like Consul/Decidim e.g. user experience and user engagement.


#5

Hi Noemi, yes, I do know Wietse - he was one of the key informants I interviewed last year here for my research. They are definitely very well supported (including in financial terms) from local administrations and having great success indeed. Though not very critical in their perspective (but this might be my personal perception…). Should you like to see the interview I have it recorded.


#6

I don’t know them personally, but the co-founder Aline Muylaert is friends with my friends who are active in participatory democracy initiatives in NL - such as Open State Foundation and thecampaign buro BKB.


#7

Thanks @chiara.certoma it would be helpful to look at the interview notes you made!! Send them to me in a private message? xx

Amen to that @felix.wolfsteller! It’s also why the caveat in my intro - it’s not clear how well they will do the job, it’s more of a startup company providing service for goverments rather than a government service itself.

I think Citizen Lab is mostly private funding with just a little from the public pot.
The pros and cons are all there, which is why it makes for an interesting case study to follow. These well resourced platforms with potential for high impact I find they should take the spotlight for both potential and impact when some public evaluation or market have their say,


#8

Hi Noemi, haven’t been able to send it through the platform - the video is too big. Would you like to send me your mail address so I can send it through wetransfer?